EAST MANATEE -- California is wine country, no doubt.
But there's a little place off State Road 64 -- the Rosa Fiorelli Winery and Vineyard -- that can uncork a nice bottle of wine, Florida style.
The wine co-owner Antonio Fiorelli makes is mostly derived from Southern muscadine grapes that can handle Florida's thin, sandy soil and warm, humid climate.
"Many people still don't know about the Florida grape and the Florida wine," said Fiorelli, an immigrant from Sicily who opened the vineyard on County Road 675 with his wife, Rosa, 20 years ago.
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So the Fiorellis decided to begin hosting dinner parties in the vineyard. They launched Wine & Dine in the Vines last spring. It was so popular they decided to bring the event back from 5-8 p.m. each Saturday through Nov. 16.
For $55 per person or $98 per couple, guests can try nine of Fiorelli's wines and choose one to drink with dinner. They'll feast at a 70-seat open air pavilion tucked inside the 10-acre vineyard on an Italian dinner from Seven Continents Catering. In classic Italian tradition, guests are encouraged to eat more than one plate.
"We're giving them a different dining experience. They're out in the vineyard, in the countryside with live music, eating and drinking wine," Fiorelli said.
For tickets, visit the winery at 4250 County Road 675 or go to fiorelliwinery.com.
Sabrina Rocco, East Manatee reporter, can be reached at (941) 745-7024. Follow her on Twitter@sabrinarocco.